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DBZ has plenty of jokes as it's expense, and many of them warranted. But I can definitely see why it was so impactful.
The Dragon Ball world is quite an intricate and intriguing world, made up of concepts from seemingly every genre. At it's core it's a Classic Martial Arts tale, blown up to scale and thus supplemented by Science-Fiction and Superhero Fiction. I will give this to Toriyama-San, he is very good at keeping everything feeling like a single tight whole despite how scatter-brained as a whole. The series is very inventive with these, combined concepts from these different genres in a way that feels whole.
One other thing that is very good about Dragon Ball (Z) is the characters. The characters are very good at being archetypal without being just archetypes. Goku and Vegeta are both clear iconic personalities but still develop and grow over the series, something that is hard to balance. My personal favorite character is Gohan.
That said, the series is not without it's obvious faults. Particularly with the anime, much of is stretched out in the way only Shonen can expect to get away with these days. Likewise the series had a bad habit of just introducing plot elements in without foreshadowing in order to reach a proper conclusion, which I suppose is what happens if you write in the way Toriyama-sama does.
DBZ is the father of the Modern Shonen Genre, with all it's good and bad points. I would suggest most action fans give it a try, in particular the shorter manga or the shortened Anime Dragon Ball Kai.
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